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CNN NEWSROOM

Special Live Coverage of March Across America. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 24, 2018 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:00:11] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Saturday. You are watching CNN's special live coverage, march across America. I'm Ana Cabrera in Washington.

And what you are witnessing right now is a movement. A movement inspired by high schoolers, teenagers, who decided they wanted change. And they weren't going to leave it up to the adults anymore.

We are talking about the survivors of the Parkland shooting. And today, on what normally would have been their spring break, they came to the nation's capital to march, to march for the 17 people they lost. To march for stricter gun laws, and to march so that kids like them don't have to be afraid to go to school.

And they are not alone. From coast to coast, look at this. And really, from all around the world, people are helping them fight for their cause. Believing that after Columbine and Virginia tech and Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas, and so many other shootings, it is finally time to say never again.

We have live team coverage of all of the rallies and the push to get Congress to act. I want to begin with CNN's Scott McLean in Denver where that rally is really just getting under way.

Scott, take it away.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. Apologies I can't hear you too well. But organizers here, they were expecting a big turnout, and it looks like they got one. A lot of these people here are holding signs. And I will just give you a look around to show you some of them.

No fear in schools. Students in action. Been a couple others.

How is this a debate? Ban assault weapons. You know, there's a lot of people who have turned out, and a lot of people who are speaking here, Ana, are actually survivors of gun violence themselves. Or they know someone who has been affected by gun violence.

This sign here says, my students deserve to learn, not to die. And I'm going to ask this gentleman about it because I was talking to you earlier. And you are a teacher, is that right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a teacher, yes. MCLEAN: So why was it so important to be here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was really important to be here just to kind of illustrate the value that I put upon not only my students' lives and my colleagues' lives. Not only domestically, but just everywhere around us as well.

MCLEAN: Are you surprised as an educator to see so many young people in this country standing up and organizing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not. No. Young people historically have been the most powerful people to influence change, to kind of generate a causality or just things within a nation that spark, you know, massive movements like this. So I'm very -- if anything, I'm very encouraged by seeing the amount of young people here.

MCLEAN: Do you think this is the time where we might actually see change?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would hope so. Historically, I mean, this is not the first time that we have talked about gun control in schools or something like that, but I would hope that the movement and the buildup that's gone into this movement is something that would warrant an actual response, whether it be legislatively or whatnot.

MCLEAN: Thank you so much for talking to us. We appreciate it.

And here's another sign here. It says I want to read books, not eulogies.

Can you tell us about your sign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's not my idea. But I just think that it's so wrong that we have to read eulogies in school when we should be learning and putting our full attention into that, because that's our whole entire lives ahead of us. And if we have to read eulogies every day, we are not going to get where we need to go. And everyone deserves so much more than what the government is giving us. And everything like that. We need something to change really fast, right now.

MCLEAN: What do you think does need to change?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we need more security in our schools. And stricter gun laws. And I don't think we should take people's guns away who are rightful, who are responsible gun owners. But I think we obviously need to ban assault rifles.

MCLEAN: This isn't just about guns for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MCLEAN: And Ana, that is something you hear. And as you would know, so often here in Colorado. Around this debate, this isn't just about guns. You know, solving the gun violence issue might not solve the issue of school shootings or gun violence, period. It has to be a number of different things. School security, mental health, guns, violence, these are all things people are telling us that need to change, in addition to what they believe is gun laws as well, Ana.

CABRERA: And the folks there in Colorado know all too well the impact of gun violence. Columbine, Aurora Theater shooting. It's just too much.

Scott McLean, thank you for that live report.

I want to talk more about the impact of today's marches with the survivor of the Parkland school shooting. Joining us, student Kelsey Friend, who saw her geography teacher, Scott Biegel, moments before he was shot and killed. And she credits him for saving her life.

First, Kelsey, thank you for talking with us. How are you feeling right now after everything you have experienced there today?

[16:05:15] KELSEY FRIEND, SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: I'm just overwhelmed with emotions right now. I'm sad, happy, empowered. And it's just like a storm, to be honest.

CABRERA: I can only imagine the emotions given what you have experienced in your lifetime and especially in the last few weeks. You are on spring break right now, Kelsey. You are spending your vacation marching the streets of the nation's capital instead of sunning yourself on a sandy beach. Do you even feel like a teenager anymore?

FRIEND: I feel like I am a teenager, but I have grown a little bit more from just being a normal teen. I feel like I'm, like, closer to being an adult than I should be at my age. I should be hanging out with my girlfriends, going to the mall and getting my nails done, but I'm sitting here at a march in D.C., marching for my life. My life and my cousins' and everybody else who couldn't make it out here.

CABRERA: How are you doing?

FRIEND: Personally, I haven't been able to go to school because I haven't been able to sit in with me recently. It's just been really hard for me to get out of bed and stop crying. So I have just been a very sad person. But lately, I have been getting into the groove of getting out. So I'm out of my state and I'm here. Moving around, bringing a smile to everybody's faces. It's giving me a little more hope to go back to school.

CABRERA: So is this event, this march, this movement helping your healing process?

FRIEND: Yes. Hearing Emma's and Cameron and David all speak, has given me the strength to go back and just being here in D.C., one of the places I love to come to ever since my trip when I was little. I feel more comfortable going back with this empowerment. And a little scared still, though. But I feel better.

CABRERA: You say your favorite teacher, Scott Beigel, saved your life by directing you into an open classroom. Moments later, I know you heard the gunshot that ended his life. What would your teacher, Scott Beigel, say, if he could see the massive crowds for today's march in Washington? How would he react?

FRIEND: He would probably crack a joke or say something really silly. I personally don't know him as well as his mom does. So I feel a little part of me feels like he said, oh, who started this? Which is kind of funny to me.

CABRERA: Go ahead.

FRIEND: Yes. I call her Mrs. Beigel. She is family now. I love her like she's my own mom.

CABRERA: I know you have a special bond with her. And just Scott's parents in general. Tell me about that relationship. You talk frequently, right?

FRIEND: Yes. I try to call her every day. And if I don't get the chance, I'll call her every other day. And if not that, I'll call her when I have time. Because recently, I haven't been in the mood to talk to no one. So I called her yesterday. And I told her that I was going to be in D.C. And that I met up with her earlier today. And I got a huge hug, which made me feel a lot better.

CABRERA: I have been so moved watching all of these speeches today. You mentioned Emma's speech and David Hogg's and so many others. And I have had goose bumps. And it has been so incredibly inspiring to see their passion and their courage and the bravery of people like you, your strength. How do you feel about those who have tried to dismiss you and your friends as kids, that will have little impact, even suggesting you have been hijacked by left-wing gun control activists?

FRIEND: I feel like they have no clue what we can do. They don't have a single idea of how much power we have right now because we're not just tiny ants in an ant farm. We are a huge colony. Bigger than a colony. We are like huge. And they haven't got the best of us yet. And I am truly excited to see what Emma does next.

CABRERA: Well, Kelsey Friend, we will stay in touch. Continue to stay strong, my friend. Thank you for joining us. Best of luck to you.

FRIEND: Thank you.

CABRERA: So from Washington, you could hear the chants of, enough is enough, 2600 miles and three time zones away. Let's go to Los Angeles, where CNN national correspondent Miguel

Marquez is joining us at the rally there, still going strong.

Miguel, set the scene for us there.

[16:10:15] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Enough is enough is certainly one of the themes here as well. Emma Gonzalez's words of we call BS is certainly seen everywhere here. I'm going to show you some of the signs here. This young lady has one

that's one of the more powerful that I have seen. It could have been me. Gun reform now. There is sadness. There is frustration. But overall, there is anger. We have heard from the victims of gun violence from Parkland to the Vegas shootings to columbine.

Several thousands of people turned out here in Los Angeles. One of them is a 16-year-old who goes to south gate high school. You are also here with your friends, Dominique (INAUDIBLE). Why come out today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I can't stand the thought of, like, the people that came here today, they matter to me, they matter to our teachers, they matter to our families and communities, and this is something that's affecting us day in and day out. And it's not something we can simply overlook. It's something that is happening now and has to be dealt with now.

MARQUEZ: You are 16. People are calling for votes here and to get out there and vote and make their anger heard at the ballot box. You can't vote yet. But what do you hope to see come out of today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I can see is that even though many of us can't vote, us voicing our opinions and showing that we are not going to take this, they know that there are more rushes of children that are going to come. These 18-year-olds, these 19-year-olds, they are going to voice their opinions now, and we are going to follow them in the same suit, and they're going to follow us as we continue to grow with this movement.

MARQUEZ: What are your signs here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our sign says, non-rational adults, crossed out with assholes for the NRA.

MARQUEZ: So we know where you heading from there. And then over here, your other friends, what is this one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It says Columbine, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, and so many. Am I next?

MARQUEZ: And then your third sign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's one of the traditional school zone signs, with those school zones are no longer that. They are killing zones.

MARQUEZ: What's it like to be a 16-year-old? You guys have a practice lockdown recently. What went through your mind when you see Parkland and these different schools?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I see this it reminds me that this could happen to us. I mean, we have lockdown drills like this. It reminds me just how unprepared we are because we don't take this as seriously as it should be. And these school shootings and lockdown drills have to be implemented now and solved for now, because those of us are just sitting and waiting like ducks on a pond waiting to get shot. That's not right for students to be doing.

MARQUEZ: All right. Thank you very much.

You hear that through. So many kids out here. I mean, it is inspiring to see how focused they are on making change and hoping that this is just the beginning of that movement or another point in that movement, that they hope to see in November and beyond -- Ana.

CABRERA: Miguel Marquez in Los Angeles. We will check back where you. Thank you. You can certainly hear the frustration in their voices and wanting something better for their future.

I want to take you now around the country and give you a live look at the marches happening from coast to coast, as we continue our special live coverage. March across America. This is a march with so many memorable moments, including this one. Jennifer Hudson and the students of Stoneman Douglas singing "the times, they are a changing."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:18:49] CABRERA: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage, march across America. And it is happening all across America today. These live pictures from Denver and an endless sea of people filling the streets there, rallying for change when it comes to gun reform and gun safety.

Colorado, as you know, is home, may be could be considered ground zero to mass shootings when you think of Columbine and the Aurora Theater massacre. So it is a personal issue for so, so many. In Denver, and of course in Washington, D.C. and Parkland, Florida, and Maryland.

In fact, there was a group today from Maryland, an emotional group of Maryland students and teachers calling for change, just five days after a shooter opened fire at Maryland's great mills high school, the most recent school shooting. Students from Great Mills high say we will march for you, Jaelynn Willey. And there's Jaelynn. She was 16 when she was shot. She died Thursday after being taken off life support.

And here with me now, Maryland senator, Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, who is passionate about making change as well.

Senator, first, I just want to get your take on what we are witnessing today. I know you were out in the crowd here in D.C. from afar, it was powerful. What was it like to be there?

[16:20:03] SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, a huge amount of energy and a cry for change. And these students who have really launched this movement understand that this march is just a first step. And they need to keep the momentum going day in and day out. Many of the cynics are saying they're going to go away. They're going to forget about this after the march. No way. They're not going away. They're in this for the long haul, until we have meaningful changes to our gun laws.

CABRERA: What do those meaningful changes look like? VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think there are a whole variety of commonsense

measures. I think the most immediate change that we should push for in Congress is universal background checks , universal background check to see if you have a criminal record, to see if you have mental instability.

A number of years ago, that got 54 votes in the United States Senate. You need to clear a hurdle of 60 votes in the United States Senate. So we need to keep pushing. We do need Presidential leadership here. We all know that President Trump invited the cameras into the White House, and he talked about universal background checks. And he said who is afraid of the NRA? And then the next night, he invited the NRA over for dinner, and we haven't really heard from the President on that issue.

I think we could actually get to the 60 votes with some Presidential leadership. Beyond that, and the students know this better than anybody. You have to take these to the elections. You have got to look at those critical elections where you have somebody who is on the side of the gun lobby and somebody who is willing to take on the gun lobby and fight for gun safety.

CABRERA: And when you talk about power at the polls, we heard from a lot of these students out today, talking about voting. We were out walking in the crowds a little bit earlier. We saw people signing people up to vote. And yet, inaction when it comes to gun control by members of Congress hasn't seemed to hurt anyone politically.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, you just put your finger on a key point. We need a couple high-profile races where the issue of gun safety is a defining issue. And where the candidate who is willing to fight against gun violence and fight with these students wins. So for example, in the upcoming elections, there are two big Senate races. One is in Florida. I saw Bill Nelson. He is an incumbent senator. He is part of the crowd here. He always fought the gun lobby and the NRA. The current governor of Florida, a-plus rating from the NRA.

CABRERA: Well, the current governor just signed a law that - actually enacted a lot of different gun reform.

VAN HOLLEN: He did. But you know, there are some issues, for example, where Bill Nelson is much further along in terms of universal background checks. Banning some of the automatic assault weapons.

Anyway, those are the kind of races where you have two candidates who have different positions. Nevada is another one. You have an incumbent senator who is an A-plus rating with the NRA. You have a challenger who is in favor for what the students are fighting for. Another opportunity to make a difference in a critical race on this issue.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about Maryland and what we saw in Maryland this week. You brought up background checks and that issue was brought up by Congressman Mark Meadows who said what happened in Maryland was stopped not by background checks but by a school resource officer with a gun. VAN HOLLEN: Well, people have sort of these sort of straw-men they

put out. But one is that there's any one thing that can address these issues. Yes, we need -- we need school resource officers. We need mental health. But we also need strong gun safety laws. And Maryland is a good example. We actually do have good strong gun safety laws. But we are not an island. If you look at Baltimore city, for example, 60 percent of the people who die from gunshot wounds in Baltimore, the guns are fired from a gun from out of state. So that's why it's important to have a universal sort of set of criminal background checks and some of these red flag laws that states are pursuing now as well.

CABRERA: Would you support teachers being armed?

VAN HOLLEN: No, I think that is frankly insane. And every teacher I have spoken to, I'm sure there are a few exceptions, says, you know, we want to be there to arm our -- we want to be armed with knowledge, not with guns. And I think that would just create a much more dangerous situation, as law enforcement has told us, if you go into an active shooter situation, you have teachers with guns. They don't know who the shooter is and they don't know who the teachers are. So I think school resource officers who are trained, that's one thing. Arming teachers that's a huge mistake.

CABRERA: So I know, senator, you are the chairman of the Democratic senatorial campaign committee. So you are working to get Democrats elected nationally. You brought up a lot of democratic races in different states.

Do you think when you look at elections like what we saw in Pennsylvania recently and Conor Lamb, who really made an upset there when you consider that has been so historically red, and President Trump won that by 20 points. He was pro-gun, pro-hunting candidate. Is there a lesson to be learned there?

[16:25:02] VAN HOLLEN: Well, this issue has different textures depending on what part of the country you are for. So really, I think it's a two-track strategy. One, I thing working with students, we need to really get the message out to every corner of the country.

But number two, and this goes back to the two races I mentioned. There are a number of key races where you have got candidates who are not on the same side of this issue as they were in the congressional election in Pennsylvania, but on opposite sides. Again, one fighting the NRA and the gun lobby. The other willing to stand up to the NRA and gun lobby. And those are the kind of defining issues that actually can change the psychology of this issue on a national political basis.

CABRERA: Do you think that the students today, not just the students, but it does seem like they are sort of creating this movement when you look at these marches, we have never seen a march like this when it comes to gun control and this issue of gun safety. Will this change the psychology among some of your Republican colleagues? Have you heard from any of them on this issue? VAN HOLLEN: I think it will. And this is one of those issues where

when people begin to see evidence at the ballot box that it's making a difference to be on the pro-gun safety side, then you are going to be able to see people, I think, moving.

CABRERA: You don't see it happening until the election?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, again, I do believe on something like universal criminal background checks, universal background checks. If the President were to weigh in like he said he was going to when the cameras were on, that could make a difference.

But the thing about these students is they know this is not just a two-week fight. They know this is a long political fight, and they know their power. And my message to all of the students out there is, know your power.

They are now the largest single voting bloc. But if you look at the young vote, it drops off in a big way between Presidential elections and midterm elections. It's about a 50 percent turnout in Presidential elections. Dropped to about 25 percent of the share of the vote in midterms. So they can make a huge difference in midterm elections. Simply by showing up at the ballot box. And those who are too young to vote still, they can go out and convince two or three other people to vote on their behalf.

CABRERA: And they know what a difference it can make, as they get older. Thank you so much.

VAN HOLLEN: And you mentioned Conor Lamb, another lesson from that, of course, is how close it was.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. Good to see you. Thank you again for coming in. And our condolences to your state for the shooting this week.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you. It was awful, and showed it can happen anywhere, anytime.

CABRERA: As we go to break, we want to show you another scene from earlier today in Parkland, Florida. Demonstrators embracing each other, showing love, supporting each other. A community still recovering from a tremendous tragedy there.

CNN's special live coverage continues after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:32:26] CABRERA: From the east to the west coast, and in most large American cities in between, young people took the lead today, gathering and marching at state houses, organizing massive rallies and raising their voices against gun violence. Demanding change. I want to go outside to just outside the White House, in fact.

CNN's Joe Johns is there now, where a crowd from the earlier rally is starting to gather. Joe, what is the scene there?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana. You put it well. We are right across from Lafayette Park. The White House is right over here. And this is a spontaneous gathering of a lot of people who came from the demonstration and now have ended up over here in front of the White House.

And if you take a look right over here, you can see what people are doing. They are putting their signs down, the very same signs that they carried during the demonstration, in front of the White House. Of course, President Trump is not here. He is at Mar-a-Lago this weekend. Nonetheless, everything is symbolic in a demonstration like this. And that's certainly no exception.

I wanted to just stop and talk to these folks.

How are you all doing? Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, we all live here in D.C.

JONES: You live in D.C. So tell me what got you down here and perhaps more importantly, what did you think of the demonstration?

JONES: Well, it was really great to just see everyone come together and be out here in support of something that just seems like such common sense. You know, not having violence in schools and not being afraid for the teachers who teach there. My father was a teacher in New York City for 30-something years. And you know, I can't imagine had there been a gun in that school at any point.

JONES: Yes. Did you ever imagine that there would be a day where people gather like this in the streets to talk about something that the Congress seems to have not been able to settle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never. I was blown away by the students today. I was in tears basically the entire time. You could tell it was coming from the heart. You know, they weren't even looking at their papers. They were just speaking their truth.

JONES: But let's be honest. Do we really think anything is going to change?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think this is a turning point. I think that this has been on a lot of people's minds for a really long time. And it's just been that nobody felt like they could get organized. I know that, like, being a millennial, we always had this anger and this disappointment. And I think we have grown up in pessimistic times and it's nice to see the generation after us who has that same anger, that same passion, that same fire, but they're organized. And that's the difference. And that's why the world is in good hands because I know it's going to change because those kids know what they are doing.

[16:35:07] JONES: All right. Thanks so much to all three of you.

And you know, it's very interesting. I think I read somewhere that Governor Cuomo said today that if the energy stays with this movement, these kids will win.

Back to you, Ana.

CABRERA: Interesting, Governor Cuomo in fact just tweeting out that they believe that there 175,000 people who participated in the march in New York today. Again, numbers are always fluid because it is hard to really estimate sized when the crowds are this big.

Joe Johns, thank you from the White House.

I do want to bring you what the White House is saying about today's movement and the march in Washington. This coming from the deputy press secretary at the White House.

We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their first amendment rights today. Keeping our children safe is our top priority of the President, which is why he urged Congress to pass the fix nicks and stop school violence acts and sign them into law.

Additionally, on Friday, the department of justice issued the rule to ban bump stocks, following through on the President's commitment to ban devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.

So now let's head to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, also in Washington.

Sunlen, there were some very memorable speeches from the survivors of the Parkland shooting today.

SUNLEN SERFATY, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana.

There certainly were. And I can tell you, we were in this crowd as they listened to those speeches. And people did not only come to let their voices be heard, but many of them came to listen and learn. Many of them see these young new activists in the wake of all these horrible tragic mass shootings as the leaders of this movement. And many students I talked to today said they wanted to learn what's next, where does this go after today?

And certainly, there are many poignant moments, emotional moments in the speeches here on Pennsylvania avenue, between the White House and Capitol Hill, certainly an iconic location for this march, for the message that many of these young activists were trying to send to President Trump and to legislators up here on Capitol Hill today.

Here's just a few of those moments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID HOGG, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: You can hear the people in power shaking. They have gotten used to being protective of their position, insuring the safety of inaction. Inaction is no longer safe.

CAMERON KASKY, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: We hereby promise to fix the broken system we have been forced into and create a better world for the generations to come. Don't worry, we have got this.

NAOMI WADLER, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT FROM VIRGINIA: My friend and I might still be 11, and we still might be in elementary school, but we know. We know life isn't equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.

JACLYN CORIN, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Still I need each and every one of your, no matter your age, to continue to fight alongside us, because hearts cannot pump without blood, and I don't want your community to join the ghastly inner circle mine is now a part of.

AALAYAH EASTMOND, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: This needs to be change. We have been fighting for this way too long, and nothing has changed. And we need change now. Yes, I'm a Parkland survivor and MSD student. But before this, I was a regular black girl, and after this, I'm still black and I'm still regular. And I will fight for all of us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: Incredibly powerful voices there. That certainly got everyone in the crowd's attention here. And I can tell you, Ana, one of the most striking things for me today was really talking to a lot of the families that came out. This was essentially a family affair. You saw mothers and sons, fathers and daughters. We met a family that was three generations of women together. People treated this as a learning opportunity within tear own family to learn from these mass tragedies, learn where to go from here.

I spoke with one mother from Fredrick, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. She had no plans to come to the rally, but then her 4-year-old daughter came home from preschool on Thursday night and she asked her if she was falling asleep. She said, mama, why aren't our schools safe? And that encourages the young mother to come here with her 4-year-old daughter who wore that message around her neck on a sign today -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Sunlen Serfaty in Washington.

Meantime, you see on the right of the screen, the live pictures out of Denver, Colorado, where a massive rally and march is happening right now there. Also in L.A., a march happening. In Boston, a march happening. Parkland, Florida, all across the country.

Chicago, and around the world when you look at Paris and Australia, marches everywhere in solidarity.

Let's go to break. And as we head there, we want to show you another powerful image. A little Ella Nayler, holding a sign with the names of all the kids killed at Sandy Hook elementary in 2012. Look at that sign. I am 6, so were they. #neveragain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:44:37] CABRERA: From a high school shooting that took 17 lives to a worldwide phenomenon from Washington to Tel Aviv to Sydney, Australia, to Parkland, Florida, and to U.S. cities big and small, huge crowds turning out today for the march for our lives rallies and marches.

I want to bring in CNN's Diane Gallagher. She spent her day on the national mall during that massive rally and the performances and speeches there.

Diane, you spoke to one of the most recognizable survivors of the parkland shooting. Tell us about that.

[16:45:10] DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Ana, I have spent the past six weeks almost with these students from Parkland at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. This has kind of been something, this goal they have been working for for weeks now. And obviously, it's been broken up behind me at this point.

But at its peak, it was incredible. It was electric here, and that is what the students' goal was at that time. I spoke with David Hogg, who has become quite a familiar face to people, who is an activist and unabashedly an activist at this point. He wants to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. And Ana, he is not taking a breath. He is already planning the next step.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOGG: I think it's important to realize that this is just the beginning. This is not the end of anything. This is the start of this marathon that Americans are going to have to run through. There are going to be people that are going to try tripping us up, there are going to be people that try moving the finish line.

We have to continue and persist and use this persevere and the struggle and the persistent that so many of these students that were here speaking today have. Use that in America to change our democracy and make it a more just system for everybody. Not Democrats, not Republicans, but Americans.

I never imagined being in this type of scenario and taking this action. But there's two things I really love. And that's political activism and the start-up mentality. And I think that's what our generation is doing is we are taking up the start-up mentality that companies like Facebook, Twitter, and so many others have used to really grow into massive conglomerates that change the world. That's what we are doing now, but just in politics.

And what this means for me is a lot. But it doesn't mean anything if people don't get out and vote, if they don't get out and get to the town halls, if people don't get out and learn to love each other as Americans. Look to somebody that you disagree with. Don't have a debate with them, have a discussion. And understand that you are not going to agree on everything, most likely, and that's fine. Our strength is our diversity, and diversity is what makes up America.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GALLAGHER: And you know, I asked him what about diversity of thought as well? And David said that the hope was that they had shown some of that today onstage, making sure there were other communities who also were falling victim to gun violence, that were represented on stage. That was a conscious goal of theirs. It was something that they did intentionally by inviting other kids from all across the United States to come and speak about the effects of gun violence on their communities and on their personal lives, Ana.

CABRERA: These students, so articulate, so poised, so impressive.

Diane Gallagher in Washington, thank you.

We go to break now with another emotional moment from the rally in Washington. Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas shooting as well, using her time on stage to mark the mere minutes it took for 17 high school students to be killed at her high school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMA GONZALEZ, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before its someone else's job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:52:42] CABRERA: You are watching CNN's special live coverage of march across America. These are live pictures now from Oakland, California, one of the many, many marches happening today with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets, calling for an end to gun violence. This is just one of more than 800 marches happening worldwide.

And I want to bring in CNN senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt. He is in Boston, where crowds flocked there. And recently broke up.

But tell us about what you experienced there today, Alex.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly did flock here. It was an enormous turnout and a day full of emotion, of cheers, of tears, of marching, of chanting, of speeches. Staggering numbers turning out. Those aerial shots from the helicopters were absolutely stunning.

We just heard from the commissioner of the Boston police department. He said there were upwards of some 50,000 people who turned out. The student organizers claimed that it went as high as 100,000. I can tell you any time we turned around a corner and look out across (INAUDIBLE), it was people as far as the eye can see.

And of course, this was a day that was student-led, student-driven, student organized. It was students giving the speeches. And one of the most passionate speeches given today was by this young woman, Vikiana Petit-Homme, who is one of the march organizers.

You are a junior at Boston Latin. First of all, tell me how you think today went.

VIKIANNA PETIT-HOMME, MARCH ORGANIZER: I think it went amazing. The message we had definitely came across through all of the speeches. It was great.

MARQUARDT: And this was obviously, this came out of the Parkland massacre, the Parkland tragedy. But the point that you wanted to drive home today was, it's not just about the school shootings. It's about shootings in general.

PETIT-HOMME: Yes. That's definitely something that we wanted to come across because gun violence has definitely been around longer than Parkland. And it's something that communities of color face every day. And we wanted to acknowledge that.

MARQUARDT: And that's why the march started this morning in Roxbury, which is a part of Boston that sees more violence than elsewhere.

Lastly, you met also with Senator Elizabeth Warren. Do you have hope that forward she and others on Capitol Hill can get something done?

PETIT-HOMME: Yes, definitely. If I think if everybody thought a little bit more like Elizabeth Warren, then this world would be a little better.

MARQUARDT: All right. Vikiana, thank you so much. It was very impressive today. Thank you. Best of luck.

PETIT-HOMME: Thank you so much.

MARQUARDT: So Ana, ending the day, speaking with student organizers, a lot of hope, a lot of optimism going forward -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Alex Marquardt in Boston.

Now, let's listen to those in L.A. This is Laura Dern.

[16:55:05] LAURA DERN, STUDENT: I'm in seventh grade. There have been 18 school shootings in the United States since the beginning of 2018. School shootings. School shootings. Those two words should have nothing in common. Did you know that they are already stationary and roving metal detectors in a majority of public schools in Los Angeles? Do you know that of those 18 tragedies, more than 80 percent of the weapons used were obtained legally?

So why does our Congress think that fixing the technology in schools will help? Should teachers and students be prepared for more gun violence? I don't want to go to school wondering if I will be safe or children I don't know will make it home. As a middle school student, I experienced lockdown drills.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:00:04] CABRERA: You Are watching CNN's special live coverage, march across America. Thank you for joining us this weekend. I'm Ana Cabrera in Washington.

And today, we are witnessing a new movement erupting. These are live images right now --